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37% of California voters have tried marijuana, new poll finds

June 1, 2010 |  7:38 am

A new Times/USC poll offers an unusually detailed look at who is using marijuana in California.

Among the 1,506 registered voters surveyed May 19-26, 37% said they had tried pot -- a figure roughly consistent with federal surveys of drug use -- and that group strongly supports the initiative. The 11% who had used marijuana in the last year favored legalization by a landslide, 82%.

By contrast, the 57% who said they have never used marijuana oppose the initiative.

Though certain types of voters are more likely to light up, marijuana use cuts across all demographic slices, reaching beyond the cliches of skateboarders and aging hippies.

TalkBackLAA match-up in the governor's race between Democrat Jerry Brown, who governed the state in the 1970s, and Republican Meg Whitman, the former EBay executive, clearly illustrates this. Voters who have tried marijuana make up 45% of Brown's supporters, and 37% of Whitman's. But both candidates oppose legalization.

Among Democrats and voters who decline to state a party affiliation, 12% had used marijuana in the last year, as had 7% of Republicans. About a quarter of the voters in each slice of the state's electorate said they experimented with the drug in the past, but not in the last year.


One of the biggest differences is between men and women. Among male voters, 45% said they had used marijuana, 14% in the past year. Among female voters, 29% said they had tried it, but just 8% in the past year.

The heaviest use of marijuana skipped a generation. The youngest voters, between 18 and 29, reported the highest percentage of marijuana use in the past year, followed by voters between 45 and 64, who could be their parents or even grandparents. Most of those voters came of age in the marijuana-hazed Vietnam War era.

The chance that a California voter has used marijuana is higher for college graduates than high school graduates and rises with income. Use is highest among single voters and lowest among married ones. Voters north of the Bay Area, home to the weed-raising Emerald Triangle, are most likely to have used marijuana, while voters in the Central Valley are least likely.

Read Times staff writer John Hoeffel's full story about the poll here. Tell us what you think below.

In the video above, Hoeffel analyzes the poll.

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